Save Money (Maybe) and Time Using Google Hotel Finder

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I’ve written about using Google Flights to find the best prices on airline tickets.  But did you know you can use Google to search for (but not book) hotels, too?

Google Hotel Finder is a tool that allows you to customize your searches.  You can use filters and a map to narrow down your criteria and find a hotel you really want.

But is it better than using 3rd party sites like Orbitz, Priceline, and Expedia directly?  I decided to check it out.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

You Can Use Google Hotel Finder to Search for Hotels

How Do You Search for Hotels?

Link:   Google Hotel Finder

On the main Google Hotel Finder page, you’ll be prompted to search by location, hotel, or address.  And you’ll need to enter a date range.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Enter Where You Want to Go or Search for Specific Hotels

I did a search for 1 night in Seattle on June 19, 2014.  The search engine defaults to “sort by relevance”, and there’s a map showing hotel locations.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

The Search Defaults to Sort by Relevance, but You Can Change It

You can customize the search by sorting by price, hotel class, user rating, or price compared to the retail price of a room.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

You Can Sort by Price, Class, Rating, or Comparison to Regular Price

What I like most is the map search function.  You can zoom into a specific area on the map to see where the hotels are.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

You Can Zoom In and Out With the Map Search Tool

You can narrow down your search area to show hotels within a certain number of minutes drive, public transport, or walk.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

This Setting Will Default to the Center of the City You’re Searching In

But if you know you want to be close to a certain attraction or address, you can drag and drop the blue pin on your desired location and the map will re-draw to reflect distance from that point.  I moved the pin to the ferry dock, in Seattle, to search for hotels within a 5 minute drive of that point.

If you hover the mouse over a red dot the hotel name will appear.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Center the Map on the Desired Location by Dropping the Blue Pin, Find Hotels by Hovering Over Red Dots

Clicking on a red dot will open a window with the hotel’s details.  You can click through for more information.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Click to Get More Hotel Information

I like this method of searching by location!

How to Find the Best Deals

I did some dummy searches in a couple of cities to see what prices Google Hotel Finder found.

Note:   You can NOT book a hotel directly through Google Hotel Finder.  You’ll have to click the 3rd party websites they list.

1.   San Diego, California

I searched for hotels in San Diego on June 24, 2014.  The Best Western Seven Seas is listed on Google Hotel Finder for $145 including taxes, both on Orbitz and Hotels.com.   The room can be cancelled for free until 48 hours prior to arrival.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

The Best Western Seven Seas in San Diego Costs $145 a Night Including Taxes Using Google Hotel Finder

a)   Google Hotels vs. Kayak

I searched for the same hotel on Kayak.  The lowest rate was through HotelClub at ~$142 including taxes.  The cancellation policy is identical.  So you’d save ~$3 by booking through HotelClub.  Google Hotel Finder did not find that rate.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Kayak Found a Slightly Cheaper Rate on HotelClub

b)   Google Hotels vs. Travelpony

I checked Travelpony to see if they had any rooms at the same hotel, because Travelpony often has good deals.  I found the same hotel for $115 including tax.  So you’d save $30 by booking with Travelpony.  Google Hotel Finder does not pick up Travelpony deals.

The cancellation policy is a little more restrictive on this room, with free cancellation until 72 hours prior to arrival.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Travelpony Has the Same Hotel for Much Less! But the Cancellation Policy Is More Restrictive

c)   Google Hotels vs. Rocketmiles

Then I checked Rocketmiles to see if their price was competitive.  With Rocketmiles you can earn airline miles on hotel bookings, but sometimes the prices aren’t as good as elsewhere.  I found the same hotel for $145 (the same price that Google Hotel Finder found).  But you’ll also get 1,000 Southwest points (or other airline miles).

The cancellation policy is also more restrictive (72 hours prior).

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

You’ll Pay $145 With Rocketmiles, and Earn 1,000 Southwest Points

So in this case, Google Hotel Finder did NOT find the lowest prices.

2.   Virginia Beach, Virginia

I looked for hotels in Virginia Beach on July 16, 2014.  Google Hotel Finder lists the lowest price for the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach – Norfolk for $145 including taxes, on Booking.com.  The room is non-refundable.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Google Says the Lowest Price for the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach Norfolk Is ~$145 (Non-Refundable)

a)   Google Hotels vs. Kayak

Then I checked Kayak for the same hotel.  The lowest rate was through Priceline at ~$144 including taxes, also for a non-refundable room.  So you’d save ~$1 by booking through Priceline.  So this is a similar deal, unless you have the Priceline Visa card because you earn 5X points on Priceline.com purchases.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Kayak (Through Priceline) Has an Almost Identical Rate

b)   Google Hotels vs. Travelpony

I searched Travelpony for the same hotel, and found the same room for $133 including tax.  So you’d save ~$11 by booking with Travelpony.  Plus, if you cancel more than 72 hours prior to check-in date, you can get a refund!

Again, Google Hotel Finder doesn’t find Travelpony deals.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

The Travelpony Room Is ~$11 Cheaper and You Can Cancel Without a Fee up to 72 Hours Prior

c)   Google Hotels vs. Rocketmiles

Finally, I checked Rocketmiles to see what price they had.  I found the same hotel for ~$148 (~$3 more expensive than what Google Hotel Finder found).  But you’ll also get 1,000 United Airlines miles (or other airline miles).  This is also a non-refundable booking.

Save Money Maybe And Time Using Google Hotel Finder

Rocketmiles Is a Little Pricier and Also Non-Refundable, but You’ll Earn Airline Miles

In this situation, Google Hotel Finder found prices similar to that on Kayak, but it still couldn’t see the cheapest (and most flexible cancellation) rate on Travelpony.

Note:  These are just 2 examples and you might have better success using Google Hotel Finder with other hotels.  That said, in both examples, Travelpony still had the best rates (and Google Hotel Finder won’t search Travelpony!).

I’ll be using Google Hotel Finder for the map search feature and comparison shopping, but Travelpony is still my favorite site for cheap hotel bookings.

When I book hotels through discount sites, I usually use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card because it earns 2 points for every $1 you spend on travel.  Or my Barclay Arrival Plus because they’ve expanded their travel redemption categories to include discount travel sites.

Bottom Line

Google Hotel Finder is a great search tool for narrowing down hotels you want in a certain area, at a specific price, or within a specified distance from a landmark or address.   It can be a great time saver.

You can’t book rooms directly with Google Hotel Finder.  They’ll direct you to a 3rd party site like Orbitz or Priceline.

In the examples I checked, the cheapest rates were still on Travelpony, which doesn’t show up on Google Hotel Finder searches.  So your best bet is to use the features on Google Hotel Finder, then cross check the hotels you want with Travelpony to make sure you’re getting the very best deal.

Have you used Google Hotel Finder?  What do you like about it?

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2 responses to “Save Money (Maybe) and Time Using Google Hotel Finder

  1. Are there any codes to get discounts for new users signing up with Travel Pony?